Royal Air Maroc League reaches its end game
The Royal Air Maroc Cycling League returned to the rural town of AlGuwayriyah for its penultimate stage. Bringing with it a guest star inthe form of spanish Moto GP racer, Aleix Espargaro.
Espargaro had already traveled to Qatar prior to his event beingscratched from the program due to many of the sport’s top bikers facingflight restrictions from a Corona Virus hit Italy. Aleix, who travelswith a bicycle to stay fit, was put in contact with Qatar CyclingFederation by local cyclist/motor bike racer, Mashel Al Naimi and bothjoined the A race on Friday.
Riders were treated to another windless day, but if any thought thiswould make for easy racing, they were proven wrong almost immediately asthe bunch was emboldened to attack and attack again. In A grade’s fivelap race, this proved most effective in the home straight where a lightcross-wind robbed the bunch of some of the advantage of the leaders’slipstream, eventually enabling Abdulla Al Khater (Team Doha Cycling) tobreak free to gain up to two minutes advantage. At the same time, AxelDopfer (Rasen Adventure Shop) punctured, effectively removing hischances of replicating his recent top results. However, by the last lap,Al Khater, Dopfer and the rest of the peloton were regrouped andeveryone came to the line together despite several, including Espergaro,putting in some attacks to test those with tired legs at the tail endof 92 km on the road.
National Team coach, Szymon Wasiak took the win with a powerfulsprint, ahead of fellow coach, Mouchine Rhaili (Team Doha Cycling) andhis teammate, Bilal Al Saadi edging out Aleix Espargaro into 4th. WithLee Jones finishing 5th, he hands over the league leader’s ScarletJersey to Rhaili but, with just 5 points now separating them, everythinghangs on the last race in Al Bidda Park in just over a month.
It’s a lot less close in C grade, where Jamison Carino (Bike to WorkQatar) has dominated this season’s racing to the point where nobodystands in his way of the title. He stepped up to the B race in AlGuwayriyah, where he found Pia Sundsted playing race-maker for her RasenAdventure Shop team. Her machinations produced an escape for twoteammates while she remained behind to organise blocking tactics. WithFabricio Forchino also up the road, his Los Gauchos team were coastingtoo, leaving just a few Team Al Jassra and independent riders to make aspirited chase, albeit lacking the fire-power to make a dent in thelead. It wasn’t to be Rasen’s day either though. Dawoud Al Rashdi andleague leader, Nayef Al Mesallam, succeeded in shedding Forchino butthey still carried Jamison Carino, who out-sprinted both to take a winin his rookie race in the higher grade.
Pia Sundstedt finally also rode away from a peloton exhausted byrepeated hard efforts over the 76 km and, with her rivals left behind,claimed her victory in the A Women category.
There was some very healthy competition in the second Women’scategory where eight riders, including some first-timer Qataris, couldtake some inspiration from triathlete and former handball international,Daniela Sposi (TriClub Doha). Dani has learned race craft over her twoyears of road racing and on this outing found herself contesting thesprint with the men to take a very creditable 12th place overall and theScarlet Jersey from 2nd placed Sondra Hope. With the pair now tied onpoints, the league will be decided on who finishes first in Al Bidda.
Although the win in C grade men was by Jaymark Handayan (Bike to WorkQatar), he is ineligible in the league and second placed Bernard Bayhonlooks likely to be runner up to Jamison Carino. With many of thisFilipino team making up the top places, it seems likely that Bike toWork Qatar will be a new force in the B race next season.
- Szymon WASIAK (Qatar Cycling Federation) 2:24:5
- Mouchcine RHAILI (Team Doha Cycling) 2:24:56
- Bilal ALSAADI (Team Doha Cycling) 2:24:56
- Jamison CARINO (Bike To Work Qatar) 1:58:12
- Nayef AL MESALLAM (Rasen Adventure Shop) 1:58:12
- Dawoud ALRASHDI (Rasen Adventure Shop) 1:58:12
- Jaymark HANDAYAN (Bike to Work Qatar) 1:30:58
- Bernard John BAYHON (Bike to Work Qatar) 1:32:07
- Mohsen JAFFAR (Team Doha Cycling) 1:34:09
- Pia SUNDSTEDT (Rasen Adventure Shop) 2:00:03
- Sophie CLARKE (Rasen Adventure Shop) 2:01:29
- Elizabeth DUNNE (Team Al Jassra) 2:10:21
- Daniela SPOSI (TriClub Doha) 1:34:09
- Sondra HOPE 1:34:26
- Lisa VAN GISBERGEN (TriClub Doha) 1:56:39.8